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Court Rejects Defendant’s Motion to Suppress Inculpatory Statement in Arizona Sex Offense Case

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona sex offense case involving the defendant’s motion to suppress statements that he made to police after his arrest. The defendant claimed that his statements must be suppressed because they were taken without police having provided him with his Miranda warnings, as required by the United States and Arizona constitutions. Ultimately, the court concluded that police did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights in taking the statement, and affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant lived with his girlfriend, as well as her daughter, the complaining witness, between 2004 and 2007. During this time, the defendant’s girlfriend’s daughter was between the ages of three and six. In 2014, the young girl disclosed to her grandmother that the defendant had sexual contact with her several times back when they lived in the same home.

After the grandmother contacted the police, two officers went to the defendant’s workplace to talk with him. The officers asked to speak with the defendant, who did not verbally respond, but followed the officers to a room where they interviewed him. One of the officers told the defendant he was not under arrest, and began to question him.

Initially, the conversation involved general biographical information. However, the tone of the questioning changed, and the officers began to ask the defendant if he committed the alleged offense. After 45 minutes of denying any involvement, the defendant eventually acknowledged his involvement. Police arrested the defendant later that day. Before trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress to exclude his statements to police based on the fact that the officers failed to read him his Miranda warnings.

The court disagreed with the defendant, dismissing his appeal. The court explained that Miranda warnings are only necessary when a defendant is subjected to custodial interrogation. The court explained that custodial interrogation occurs when a defendant’s freedom of movement is “significantly curtailed” and when the officer’s questions are “inherently coercive.”

Here, the court determined that the defendant was not under custodial interrogation, and thus there was no requirement that he be read his Miranda warnings. The court explained that the defendant’s freedom of movement was not significantly curtailed, because he was given the choice to accompany the officers and at no time was under physical restraint. The court also noted that only two officers were present, and only one of them wore a gun and badge, limiting any coercive pressure. The court also noted that a 45-minute interview does not necessarily rise to the level of an “interrogation.”

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona Crime?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with an Arizona sex offense, or any other type of serious felony offense, contact Attorney James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a dedicated Tempe criminal defense attorney with significant experience handling all types of cases, including child sex cases. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak, call 480-413-1499 today.

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